Animal Life on the Farm
By Lena G. Hall
Last month’s issue featured excerpts from an unpublished manuscript about how the Fisher family of Eagle first came to Idaho in 1889 [see Fishers by the Dozen]. The memoir’s author, born in 1901, was the fourteenth of fifteen children. In this second excerpt from her story, which is used with the permission of Lena’s daughter, Helen Wood, she describes episodes over the years involving animals on the family farm.
Sheep were wintered on the sagebrush flat near our house and during lambing season in the spring, the owner would give us some of the bummer lambs. A bummer is a lamb that has to be fed by hand. Sometimes a ewe would have twins or triplets and could not supply nourishment enough for all. A ewe might die in giving birth and the baby lamb had to be cared for by humans. Since the men tending the flock didn‘t have the time or provisions to care for the orphans, they were given away. We fed them cow’s milk through rubber nipples on pop bottles. Some lived and some didn’t.
The lambs that did survive became pets and had the run of the yard. We younger kids each had a chosen one we claimed as our own. When amid shedding of tears they had to be sold, we received a share of the selling price.
One morning in late fall when we went out to do the chores, all our sheep were missing. There had been a skiff of snow the evening before and the person who had taken our flock had figured on more snow during the night to cover his tracks. Mother Nature didn’t cooperate and no white fluff fell. The trail was easily followed and our sheep were tied to willows in a dry creek bottom with tumbleweeds stacked around them. One buck had evidently fought and had his jaw broken. The thief’s tracks led to his cabin where he was found and he confessed. Since he was a neighbor and lived alone with an aged father, charges were not pressed. He repented and all was forgiven.